Ten years

Traditionally, this is the time of year when you reflect on the past and voice your hopes, aspirations and resolutions for the future. I’m not really very good at it and never make New Year’s Resolutions.

This morning I was sitting, drifting off into the recesses of my mind when I should have been concentrating on the Sunday sermon, trying my best to remember what I was like when I was twenty, what life was like, what I felt like, what it was like to be twenty. Ten years ago.

There have been more than the usual number of press reviews and top one hundred tv programmes this Christmas and New Year season, because not only have we been reviewing the year just passed, but also the decade – the first decade of the 21st century.

What will be remarked upon in one hundred years’ time about the people and the events of these beginning years? That militant islamic terrorism changed the way we engaged with other nations and nationalities,
that we fought two wars,
that a black man became president,
that we realised the damage we were doing to the environment was irrevocable but still failed to do what little we might about it?

And what might be remarked upon about the last ten years of my life?
The places I’ve visited?
The certificates I’ve gained?
The dress sizes I’ve lost and put on?
The people I’ve dated?
The friends I’ve lost and made?

How do you even begin to measure or collate it?

It’s hard to remember what I felt like ten years ago. I didn’t really concentrate very hard on thinking about it at the time.
This is what I managed to come up with this morning:

I had short hair and I wore big baggy sweaters all the time.
I had completed four terms of university in Edinburgh.
I spent New Year’s Eve on Salisbury Crags with Sarah Stockwell, Nicola Ward, Richard Porter, Rebecca Plant, a bottle of champagne and a bag piper.
I didn’t have a mobile phone and didn’t see how owning one would be a benefit to my life.
I still searched the internet using Altavista.

Jay Wilson tweeted a link earlier to The Sunscreen Song by Baz Luhrman, the recorded version of a column written by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune, which was released ten years ago.

One of the pieces of advice listed is: ‘Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.’

And although I’ve kept the first, I was slightly disconcerted to realise I’ve still got all my bank statements dating back to 1998, when I opened a student bank account. And that it would be easier for me to tell you how much I spent and what I spent it on, or at least where I spent it, on every January 3 since then, than for me to tell you who I was with, how I felt, what I hoped for on all of those dates.

How strange?!

I’m not suggesting you use the Sunscreen Song as a checklist for how your life is going (because I confess I know I’ve hardly worn any sunscreen at all the past few years and that’s just the first thing on the list) but perhaps reflecting on the past doesn’t need to be at the exclusion of glorying in the present.

So I’m going to get rid of the old bank statements, and make more of an effort to remember the things that matter.

And here’s to 2010 and a new decade!


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